Five Things We Learned – Liverpool have a new leader, Manchester United are battling and Aston Villa have new life

This midweek, Jamie Thomas is back and takes a look at Tim Sherwood’s positivity at Aston Villa, the new ‘captain fantastic’ and Southampton’s dwindling top four hopes.

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1. Villa are staying alive

Tim Sherwood insists his side are “still alive” after beating the Baggies. Aston Villa grabbed their first win of his tenure to momentarily lift the Midlands side out of the relegation zone on Tuesday night.

It was a very good performance from Villa, who extended West Brom’s run without an away win to nine games. Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye have probably one of the most in-form partnerships around since Tony Pulis took over, but they couldn’t manage more than a single shot on target between them as the hosts did a good job keeping them quiet.

This fixture saw Villa’s two forgotten men – Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke – return to prominence as both gave good performances and scored the goals Villa needed to get the crucial win.

2. Saints go four it

Saido Mane scored Southampton’s first home goal in almost six-and-a-half hours as Ronald Koeman’s men ended a run of abysmal results at St Mary’s.

For a long time, though, it looked like it wasn’t coming as Mane himself actually missed a fair few glaring chances before he eventually stuck one away. James Ward-Prowse came on to make the difference and give Saints the spark they need to take the three points.

It was a first victory for the European hopefuls in their last four league games, and with the south coast team sitting right in the mix for the top four at the moment, they’re in a prime position to pull off a shock finish at the end of the season.

3. Fallen Angel

Manchester United fans – that watched the opening fixture of this campaign against Swansea – would have trembled with fear if you had told them that Ashley Young would outperform Angel Di Maria. But you could argue that this is exactly what has happened.

Having taken a while to adapt to playing wing-back, Young is now flying and was actually compared to Marco Reus in the German media recently, perhaps unbelievably.

Scoring the winner against Newcastle will have boosted his confidence enormously, and probably dented Di Maria’s significantly, as he didn’t look too happy as he was substituted.

4. Captain fantastic

Jordan Henderson can do no wrong at the minute and to be honest, neither can Liverpool, who’re now unbeaten in their last 12 games.

In the last two matches, the stand-in skipper has been the catalyst for their great performances. He has put in tireless displays, box-to-box running and he’s now scoring screamers on a regular basis.

Steven Gerrard is going to be sitting on the Liverpool bench quite often in the future and thinking to himself that this is their new talisman – and his replacement – and he might not be wrong!

5. Poyet stands his ground

Gus Poyet was sent to the stands during his side’s game with Hull City at the KC Stadium for reacting angrily to Jack Rodwell’s booking for simulation. Hull manager Steve Bruce admitted it was “two grown men acting like children” as the pair then clashed as he was sent packing.

But it seems while in the stands Poyet had an epiphany. He told the BBC post-match that he quite liked being up there because he could see more from a tactical perspective and he was a lot calmer because he was detached from the game in a sense, which enabled him to make better decisions.

Might we see more managers taking this approach in the future? Minus the sending-off, of course.

Read more from Jamie Thomas here.

Follow @J_T_93

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